By Ben Crandell
The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, as you are no doubt aware, opens Friday night with a splashy Broward Center affair attended by a famous face, Jason Alexander. This being the 29th annual edition of FLIFF, you know the drill.
But among all the earnest filmmaking and appreciative award-giving, FLIFF is always good for a few moments when it goes off-script, exposing a subversive streak of irreverence. (Hit the link for a rundown on FLIFF highlights and recommendations.)
Take, for instance, this year’s recipient of FLIFF’s Star on the Horizon Award, handed out every year to an up-and-coming young talent. Clara Mamet is not the spawn of Nickelodeon.
“I’m a little brash sometimes, a little Mae West-y sometimes,” says Mamet, 20, between puffs on a cigarette. “It’s probably got me into trouble more than it’s helped me, but I’m still alive, so it’s worked out.”
Mamet wrote, directed and stars in her first film, the semiautobiographical “Two Bit Waltz,” which will screen at FLIFF Nov. 22-23, when she’ll be in town to accept her award and do audience Q and As. A darkly humorous look at a suburban 18-year-old’s struggle with writer’s block and looming adulthood amid surreal family dysfunction, “Two Bit Waltz” is the work of an astonishingly assured filmmaker.
The script, too, is a precarious balance of universal teen angst, family psychology and black humor that includes comic references to “The Diary of Anne Frank” and an anti-Semitic slur that rhymes with “bike.”
It may come as no surprise to confirm that she is the daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet, whose powerful prose has fueled “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Speed-the-Plow” and “American Buffalo.”
Ben Crandell’s Go Guide blog is linked at http://www.cityandshore.com